Sororities are commonly known as a college social club or organization for women, with particular distinction given to the African American sororities. Brought about at the time in history when traditional roles of women were being challenged, the founders of the first black sororities had to overcome the stereotypical views of sexism as well. They were considered unique, although college wasn’t really an option for African American’s. Within society they were being treated in rejection because they were black. They wanted to have an organization that would be called sisterhood and ties into their community. Nine dedicated women wanted peace, sisterhood and wanted to become leaders amongst their communities so they formed the first African American sorority in 1908 called Alpha Kappa Alpha. With over a quarter of a millions members in the black sororities numbers are increasing over the years. They continue to be a part of their communities and educate youth in their community. When actual Greek letters were formed for sororities and fraternities white letter groups didn’t think black fraternity groups would be capable of understanding the meanings of the letters and Greek study as they did.
Four major African American sororities that were established included Alpha Kappa Alpha (Howard University 1908), Delta Sigma Theta Sorority (Howard University 1913), Zeta Phi Beta Sorority (Howard University, 1920), and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority (Butler University, 1922). These organizations have impacted African American women in society and their community as well.
Howard University has been the start of majority of the first African American sorority groups. The first African American sorority that came about was Alpha Kappa Alpha. A woman named Ethal Hedgeman and eight other women in Liberal Arts School formed the sorority called Alpha Kappa Alpha in 1908. The other members included Beulah E., Lillie Burke, Margaret Flagg Homles, Marjorie Hill, Lucy Diggs Slowe, Marie Woolfolk Taylor, Anna Easter Brown, and Lavinia Norman. Originally the organization was to better it’s members socially and academically, but expanded towards their community also. It was the second black Greek group established, first being Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.
In 1912, the organization wanted to change the name and symbols, but one graduate member didn't agree with the changes. So, she gets the existing sisters and rallies them together all who committed themselves to Alpha Kappa Alpha, AKA, and didn't want change. They were first incorporated in 1913 and have evolved into affiliation of college educated women committed to academic excellence, ethics, mentoring and public service. Today, the sorority has an impressive membership of more than 170,000 women in the United States, the Caribbean, Europe, and Africa (Ross, 2000).
Delta Sigma Theta was the next sorority to launched on Howard University’s campus in 1913. Twenty-two women committed to sisterhood, maintain high scholastic standards, and obligated to become role models amongst their society. The founders were Osceola McCarthy Adams, Marguerite Young Alexander, Winona Cargile Alexander, Ethel Cuff Black, Bertha Pitts Campbell, Zephyr Chisom Carter, Edna Brown Coleman, Jessie McGuire Dent, Frederica Chase Dodd, Myra Davis Hemmings, Olive C. Jones, Jimmie Bugg Middleton, Pauline Oberdorfer Minor, Vashti Turley Murphy, Naomi Sewell Richardson, Mamie Reddy Rose, Eliza P. Shippen, Florence Letcher Toms, Ethel Carr Watson, Wertie Blackwell Weaver, Madree Penn White, and Edith Motte Young.
Today, the sorority continues to do all what their founders wanted which envisioned change throughout their community and what’s right. With a membership of over 250,000 women, it is one of the largest African-American women's organizations in the world, with chapters in the United States, England, Germany, Virgin Islands, Bermuda, Bahamas, Japan, and Korea (Ross,...